We certainly have had plenty of rain down here in the South East, the Sussex Ouse and the Medway suffering most but the Colne and Thames have had an influx of cold winter water as well. The lake often floods in winter but with these being the worst floods since 1968 I should not have been surprised to find the lake completely flooded, just the one swim fishable on the far side. This together with the sewage that had leaked into the lake a couple of weeks before was making it a hard winter to catch a carp. Workman laying communications pipes had been working along the road outside the lake right outside the lake a sewage pipe that we all knew was there sprung a leak, just coincidence I expect.

Fortunately Geoff and a couple of others spotted the gushing sewer and sprung into action. The sewage was already pouring over the small embankment into the lake when they worked like men possessed to dig a reservoir for it to run into, rather than the lake, before the EA managed to get things under control. If they had been not there we would have had a serious fish kill on our hands. Thankfully apart from a disgusting smell and the immediate vacinity of the spill looking like the apocalypse no fish seemed in distress. The EA came down every day over the next few days to test the oxygen levels and in some areas of the lake it dropped to 38% at its worst. The clear water went a horrid browny green as the wind blew the muck up the whole lake.

I had decided to fish anyway but went up the far end of the lake away from the stink. The night was going to be mild and cloudy, too good to miss and the results from the last two weeks were promising. I set up in my usual swim where I could cover the area of open water where the carp gathered as the weather got colder. I was concerned about the sewage dropping down into the silt across the lake as time went on making the silt unpalatable for the carp to feed in. However for this session I stuck to bottom baits fished as usual with PVA bags of crushed fishmeals and trout pellets. At 4am the right-hand buzzer bleeped a few times as a carp found the bait. On it fast, I hauled to stop the carp getting in amongst the still heavy weed. My last take from this spot had been lost due to the carp finding the weed and me having to haul it out, loosening the hookhold that eventually gave with the carp in front of me. Not this time though as a few minutes later I lifted the net around a nice plump mirror.

The net was full of stinking weed as well as the carp but I was pleased to find the weed just smelly of natural muck not sewage. The carp was well hooked and was a lovely deep fish with a single scale on its shoulder. On the scales it read 21lb 12oz. I was mightily relieved not only to catch a carp but also to catch it after such a disaster hitting the lake. Soon the carp was dashing off back out into the lake, like that proverbial grey submarine.

That was a few weeks ago, before I finally caught my target mirror. Then almost immediately after catching my obsession, the rains came. The rain though has gone along way to saving the lake from the sewage pollution. There has been so much rain that the sewage has been diluted, what happens next spring when the weed grows we will have to wait and see. So, back to finding the lake flooded.

I was surprised to find the lake flooded quite that much. My usual swim was completely under water. I could have fished it by setting up well back but there is a concrete front to the swim that is well under water. Any hooked carp would have been in danger of being lost if, in the final stages of the fight, it had dived down in front of the swim, the line could have been cut through. Therefore I drove round the muddy track to the far side of the lake where the only fishable swim was. Surprisingly no trees had come down in the 90 miles per hour gusts of the storm, well one long dead ivy covered tree was leaning across the track but I was able still to get the car under it. That was after testing it to ensure it was not going to fall completely in the night thus blocking my way out. It was leaning on another more solid tree on the other side to the track so it was safe.


At the swim I was able to wade out a bit and put baits out to the favoured clear spots amongst the silt and weed. The rods were in the water at the front of the swim but I set the shelter up well back on dry land. As the evening went on the wind kept blowing quite strong and twice carp leapt in the darkness. Geoff came round and said that the lake was rising about an inch an hour. I was not sure if he was joking or not. If not then the car would be under water in 18 hours time!

The lake did rise though during the night and by the time I packed up in the morning the storm rods on the front of the shelter were in the water, I guess it had risen three or four inches. With more rain forecast for the weekend things were not looking too good! The carp? Well, despite them showing and the mild superb conditions, they kept quiet. As I sat there in the darkness I wondered what I was still doing here on this lake. I had caught all the carp now but I do love winter fishing so I thought away an hour going through a list of possibilities I could move onto for the rest of the season. However one by one I ruled them out for one reason or another.

It could be a long winter!

Have fun!